Liberal Arts Blog — Teaching Kids How to Teach Science

Liberal Arts Blog — Wednesday is the Joy of Science, Engineering, and Technology Day

Today’s Topic — Teaching Kids How to Teach Science

The best way to teach kids how to learn is to teach them how to teach for the very simple reason that the best way to learn something is to have to teach it. The best test of understanding is the ability to teach it to someone else. So how to teach kids to teach science in particular? You must model it. You teach by example. You learn by example. Well, how do you do that? Today, a few thoughts. Experts — please chime in. Correct, elaborate, elucidate.

POSE AN INTRIGUING QUESTION AND HAVE THE STUDENTS PUZZLE OVER IT FOR A WHILE

1. My favorite case study: it’s a half moon outside. How long before the next full moon?

2. What is the most intriguing question you ever puzzled over in science class at any level?

3. What is the most successful question you ever asked as a science teacher?

NB: Should the top priority of science educators be figuring out what the best such questions are?

GIVE CLUES IF THE STUDENTS STRUGGLE — DON’T GIVE AWAY THE ANSWER UNLESS YOU ABSOLUTELY HAVE TO

1. The half moon question clue: the clock metaphor for the lunar cycle. At 12 the moon is full. What does it look like at 6?

2. Can you think of a comparable example from your experience as a student?

3. From your experience as a teacher?

NB: Should not the best such clues be common knowledge to all elementary, middle, high school, and college science teachers?

CONTINUITY IS KEY TO DEPTH OF THOUGHT AND UNDERSTANDING

1. Courses should not be string of random wows. The half moon story, for example, should be linked to the idea of the importance of keeping a journal related to any topic of interest — eg. the moon, or the night sky, or celestial objects in general. A journal to be kept for life.

2. Leading to more intriguing questions like: when is the moon shaped like a D instead of a C? or when can you see the moon during the day and when not?

3. What sequence of questions makes the most sense? What works best? It makes sense to crowd source the best such sequences so that the maximum number of students get to the joy of science as expeditiously as possible.

NB: What could be a better life time habit than the keeping of a moon-sun- planet-and-stars journal? Would there be a better way to teach children the joy of science at home or in school? Would there be a better science book worth writing than one that explained simply, step by step, how to do this most effectively? A little plea to those better qualified than I.

FOOTNOTES — expectations, ages, bell curves, shyness

1. What are reasonable expectations for the ability of students to teach other students at different ages?

2. What about shy students?

3. My experience: the lower the expectations, the lower the performance. But, honestly, my experience is quite limited. Thoughts?

Images above: Einstein, Archimedes, Galileo. The history of science is the history of questions, experiments, and answers. Wouldn’t the best history of science book ever present a ranking by teachability with beautiful and beautifully sequenced illustrations with the number of steps per topic minimized? Might economy be the best measure of beauty?

A LINK TO THE LAST FOUR YEARS OF POSTS ORGANIZED BY THEME:

PDF with headlines — Google Drive

ATTACHMENTS BELOW:

#1 A graphic guide to justice (9 metaphors on one page).

#2 “39 Songs, Prayers, and Poems: the Keys to the Hearts of Seven Billion People” — Adams House Senior Common Room Presentation, 11/17/20

YOUR TURN

Please share the coolest thing you learned this week related to science, engineering, or technology. Or, even better, the coolest or most important thing you learned in your life related to science and engineering.

This is your chance to make someone else’s day. Or to cement in your mind something that you might otherwise forget. Or to think more deeply about something dear to your heart. Continuity is key to depth of thought.

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